Homicide victim, alleged shooter involved in 2014 shootout

Liz Evans Scolforo

York City homicide victim Dontay Lamar Lowrie and the man accused of gunning him down last week were involved in a 2014 shootout that left both men with multiple gunshot wounds and a city neighborhood riddled with bullets.

Juan Santiago

Lowrie, 21, of the 400 block of West Princess Street, was fatally shot after being driven to the 400 block of Park Street, near Farquhar Park, shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday to meet with someone. He died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the York County Coroner's Office, which has ruled the death a homicide.

York City detectives on Monday arrested Juan Abel Santiago and charged him with Lowrie's slaying, charging documents state.

Santiago, 21, of 721 Priority Road, remains in York County Prison without bail. He also is charged with attempted aggravated assault and robbery.

Dontay Lowrie

2014 shootout: Lowrie and Santiago were both involved in a shootout in the 100 block of Hamilton Avenue on April 3, 2014. At the time, the two were apparently friendly, police said.

Shortly after 1 p.m. that day, multiple gunshots were fired in the area, creating a half-block-long crime scene, police said. A house in the block had 13 bullet holes in its exterior walls, and several parked vehicles were struck by bullets, court records state.

Police collected numerous spent shell casings in the block as well as a sawed-off shotgun, records state. Investigators said it appeared at least two guns were involved, with some bullets being fired eastward and others being fired westward.

After the gunfire, Lowrie, Santiago and a third man were seen running into the home of Lowrie's grandfather in the 300 block of North Beaver Street, police said.

Both Lowrie and Santiago suffered multiple gunshot wounds during the shootout, according to police.

Gun, ammo found: Officers arrested Santiago a short time later because he didn't have permission to be in Lowrie's grandfather's home, documents state. Police found 16 .32-caliber bullets in Santiago's right rear pants pocket, documents state. A .32-caliber handgun was later found hidden under a couch cushion in the home, with the same ammunition in it as officers found in Santiago's pants, police said.

He had $821 in his pocket, despite working at a fast-food restaurant, according to police, and was in possession of 2.2 grams of cocaine, police said. At the time, Santiago denied selling or using drugs.

In November 2014, he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession with intent to deliver and being in illegal possession of a firearm and was sentenced to three to six years in state prison, records state.

Santiago was paroled from a state prison boot camp Dec. 29, 2015, according to Susan McNaughton, press secretary for the state Department of Corrections. That means he remains on state parole and was free for about a month before allegedly killing Lowrie.

Gang affiliation: Lt. Troy Bankert, who supervises the York City detective bureau, confirmed both Santiago and Lowrie have a "history" of gang affiliation.

Police said the men were affiliated with the city's West Side gang, also known as the 600s.

But detectives working the homicide case are now focusing less on the men's gang affiliation and more on the relationship between victim and alleged killer, according to Bankert.

One thing detectives are looking into is why Santiago supposedly called Lowrie a "snitch" before allegedly fatally shooting him.

"We don't know the reason why he said it," Bankert noted, in part because Santiago declined to give a police statement after being arrested.

The lieutenant also said that detectives are determining whether the 2014 shootout could be related to Lowrie's death and are looking to make at least two more arrests in the case.

The homicide: Police said Lowrie had his girlfriend drive him to Park Street on Thursday, where he intended to get money from a man who lives in that area.

Once there, Lowrie opened his car door and started talking with a man, according to police, who said the exchange appeared to be friendly.

That's when Santiago approached the car, calling Lowrie a "f—ing snitch," charging documents state.

Santiago and the man who'd been speaking with Lowrie both pulled out guns, demanded cash and robbed Lowrie before Santiago shot him, documents allege. Lowrie's girlfriend drove him to York Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to call York City detectives at (717) 849-2219.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.